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Legal shake-up boosts NSW guilty pleas

AAP logoAAP 17/10/2016

Throwing extra resources at NSW District Court cases early in the piece has significantly boosted the number of guilty pleas, new figures reveal.

Assigning a dedicated judge and two full prosecution and defence teams to a pilot program started in April last year has lifted guilty pleas by 20 per cent, according to NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research analysis.

The trial program - aimed at easing pressure on the courts - is a considerable departure from the status quo which involves no dedicated judge and minimal contact between legal teams.

By the end of July this year, almost double the amount of matters dealt with through the "Rolling List Court" trial had been finalised compared to those handled in general courts.

A substantially higher number of guilty pleas were entered - and they were offered earlier - compared to regular courts.

BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said the benefits of early consultation between defence and prosecution were widely trumpeted.

"This is the first time I've actually seen an initiative which produced that outcome," Dr Weatherburn said.

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